John 11:28-57; 2 Chronicles 12-13; Psalm 76
In the movie “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” the Enterprise comes under attack from an old adversary. While Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise ultimately prevail, the climactic scene happens when Spock enters the area of the warp core drive and fixes the drive so that the Enterprise can escape the last-ditch effort of Khan to destroy them, while, in the process, receiving a lethal dose of radiation. Captain Kirk congratulates the chief engineer on his work repairing the core, only to be told he needed to come down. There, Kirk sees Spock dying in the radiation containment unit. In the touching death scene as Spock prevents Kirk from entering, he tells the Captain “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few.” The movie wraps up from there with that thought ringing through our minds.
Jesus had gone to the graveside of His friend Lazarus who had been in the grave four days. His sisters were distraught. Martha had met Him close to the burial ground, and Jesus called Mary ought to Him. Then Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave to prove His power over death. The result was that many believed in Jesus. Others went to tell the Pharisees. If Jesus kept doing things like this, people would follow Him and the Romans would destroy Israel! They were perplexed. “Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’” (John 11:49-50)
Jesus was a real problem to the power structure. The Pharisees had tried to stone Him on many occasions. Jesus kept getting away. Jesus had taken refuge on the other side of the Jordan River when news came to Him about Lazarus. After waiting a couple of days, He came back to Bethel to deal with the situation. In one moment, Jesus restored the hope of His followers by raising Lazarus from the dead. Many rejoiced and followed Jesus. Some, thinking that this was some kind of parlor trick, ran to report Him to the Pharisees. The Pharisees, based on the words of Caiaphas that were more prophetic than they realized, began to plot the execution of Jesus. They didn’t believe His miracles, thinking that Jesus must have used trickery. They didn’t believe His teaching because it went against their understanding of God. They didn’t believe Lazarus came back from the dead, because of obvious reasons. If Jesus were to continue with His mad quest, they believed that the Romans would take them down.
What Caiaphas didn’t know was that God planned for Jesus to die. Jesus was born to die for all people to pay the penalty for sin. Ultimately, not only did Jesus die, the Romans crushed the nation of Israel. What Caiaphas couldn’t have known was that Jesus died for all people so that their sins might be forgiven, not that a small, vassal nation might be preserved. The whole nation would perish, but the message of Jesus has continued through almost 2000 years. People know that God loves them, because of the sacrifice of Jesus. People can turn to Him and seek forgiveness from God, because of the sacrifice of Jesus. People know that God has power over life and death, because of the resurrection of Jesus. Sadly, not all recognize the truth about Jesus. Some still seek to prove that Jesus didn’t exist, or if He did, that this resurrection thing was made up in some sort of exhibition of mass hysteria. Logic, as illogical as it sounds, leaves us with no other conclusion than to say Jesus rose from the dead. Sherlock Holmes reminded Watson that when you take away the impossible, what you are left with, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. Jesus proved the prophecy of Caiaphas, and then rose from the dead. When you remove all the impossibilities of the story, that’s the only conclusion you can make.
Lord, You did rise from the dead. You give grace, mercy, forgiveness, and hope. Let me share that also.